Gardening Guide – Planting Leeks & Winter Greens

Leeks and Brassicas such as Winter Cabbage and Sprouting Broccoli, can be planted out now into their final positions from a seed bed or as plants purchased from your local garden centre. Winter vegetables take longer to grow than some summer crops, but are well worth the wait!

Preparation of the ground

Ground raked ready for leeksLeeks like ground that has been manured for a previous crop, such as potatoes. Dig the ground over well and remove any perennial weeds that may have sprung up. Rake level, remove any stones and gently tread the ground to settle it.

Brassicas like ground that has not been deeply dug or manured, but may benefit from an addition of garden lime, when the ground is dug over in the spring. If you are preparing your ground now, remove any weeds and try not to disturb the ground more than you need to. Any freshly dug areas should be raked and trodden three or four times to settle the ground and compact it well. Don’t worry about adding lime to freshly dug ground as it may scorch the plants’ roots.

At planting time

What you will need

  • Plants 
  • Fish, blood and bone or another general fertilizer 
  • Watering can 
  • Garden Rake 
  • Trowel 
  • Garden Line 
  • Gloves 
  • Dibber, thick stick or long handled trowel

LeeksHole taken out with dibber

  1. Dust the ground with fish, blood and bone and lightly rake into the soil surface.
  2. Set out your garden line – the rows of leeks should be approx. 40cm (15 inches) apart and the plants in the rows approx. 23cm (9 inches) apart.
  3. Make holes 15cm deep with the dibber, thick stick or trowel handle 23cm apart.
  4. Lightly trim the roots of each plant and trim the leaves so that the plants are approx. 20cm (8 inches) long.
  5. Drop the plants into the holes. Do not fill the soil in around them – this will happen as they grow and ‘blanch’ the stem (make it white) for the tastiest part of the plant!
  6. Gently fill each hole with water to settle the plants in.


  • Keep the plants free from weeds with regular hoeing or hand weeding.
  • Feed the plants with a general fertilizer at the end of August or early in September to boost growth before the winter.
  • Harvest through the winter as the plants are required for use. Leeks are very hardy vegetables and can be left in the ground through the most severe of weather.

BrassicasFirming in sprouting brocolli plants with heels

  1. Gently rake the ground level.
  2. Set out your garden line – the rows should be 60cm (2 feet) apart and the plants 60cm apart in the rows.
  3. After planting the young plants, ‘heel them in’ by standing on your heels and firming in the soil around the plants’ roots.
  4. You should be able to pull off part of a leaf rather than pull up the plant if you have ‘heeled in’ properly.
  5. Water in well after planting even if the ground is moist.
  6. Use slug pellets little and often until the plants grow away strongly.
  7. Keep an eye out for caterpillars that will strip the plants very quickly. Remove them and destroy by hand for best results but keep checking the undersides of the leaves for more eggs and tiny caterpillars that have just hatched!


  • Keep the plants free from weeds with regular hoeing or hand weeding.Pulling leaf to check planting is firm enough
  • Feed the plants with a general fertilizer once they are growing away strongly.
  • Keep a regular eye on those pesky caterpillars! Inspect your plants each day until there are no more butterflies on the wing!
  • Protect the plants from Wood Pigeons by hanging up CD’s or placing tall sticks around the plants to discourage them from landing and feeding on the leaves. 
  • Sprouts planted now should be ready to pick in time for Christmas and Sprouting Broccoli will be ready to pick from February until the beginning of May



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